Cartons are essential to our business, otherwise how would you get our products? We have devoted an entire building on our farm to carton storage. We always have thousands of them on hand. Ordering 40 thousand at a time saves us on printing and shipping costs. Currently our cartons come all the way from Washington State. We practice green methods in developing our cartons. First, we use recycled cardboard to make the egg carton. It gets my goat when I see the distribution of “organic” or “free range” eggs packed in plastic or Styrofoam cartons. A person may be eating a healthy product, but then they contribute to landfills because plastic and Styrofoam are not biodegradable materials. Most important, we print “ink-on” the carton. Although it cost a great deal more money to print directly on the carton, our Earth is important, and we do not want to contribute unnecessarily to the destruction of our forests by using stick-on labeling. We are blessed because the dairy managers in our retail locations save our case cartons as well as others that we then recycle. This cuts down on large chain store waste and saves us $1.75 with each case recycled.
Our cartons are custom printed, so our grocery store customers can recognize our logo color scheme. Specifically, the front of each egg carton says, “Pasture Raised Chickens!” At the farmers market, it is a different story. Another way Happy Hen’s Barnyard improves the environment is to reduce new carton purchases by recycling egg cartons at the markets. This practice is not allowed in grocery stores, but it is accepted and encouraged at your local farm market. When customers shop with us at the farmers markets and bring back used cartons, they get credit toward free eggs. These cartons can come from any source, and as long as they are still structurally sound and clean, we reuse them.
When eggs are packed up for the grocery store, they are packed 24 dozen to a box. When eggs are delivered to the grocery store, they are always shipped in new cartons, and new boxes, but we have found a way to reuse the carton boxes that get thrown away. When my husband, Tom, delivers the cartons to the grocery stores, he collects empty carton boxes that other vendors have left, that would otherwise be disposed of. We are then bring those back to the farm to pack up bulk eggs that we sell to local vendors who use them in the products that they make. These eggs get pack into flats that hold 30 eggs each, 6 flats tall for boxes of 180 eggs, or 15 dozen.
The photos below show you one of our carton deliveries. Even though the truck is able to park right next to the shed, getting them in there is no small task. We were lucky this day because the loading deck on the back of the truck lowered down for us. Some days the truck that comes is not equipped with the motorized deck, and we have to dump the stack down to the ground, and we hope that the cartons do not break.
The truck drivers do not always bring the pallet dolly either, so finally, I purchased one ($350) to keep on the farm. We use it to pick the pallet up from the deck and wheel it right into the shed, fighting gravel along the way. On this particular day, it was not working too well because the stack was too tall to fit through the door. We had to cut the plastic wrap that holds the stack together and take down a couple layers of cartons before we could roll it in the storage building. These suckers are heavy too! Four of us struggled to get the truck unloaded and restacked.
If you visit us at the Cleveland Park or Palisades Markets in Washington, D.C., please bring us your used cartons and ask us for a stamp card! We will start you on your way to free healthy, delicious eggs.
Talk to you soon,